Hallowe’en in 1907 Santa Rosa passed without event, or at least nothing as serious as two years earlier, when a mob of little heathens ended up in jail.

(RIGHT: Detail of cartoon from The Salt Lake Tribune, November 1, 1907)

Nationally the prank d’jour was still stealing front yard gates, but it seems that in 1907 there was also a larger than usual number of Hallowe’en fatalities chronicled in the newspapers. Some examples:

* In Tucson, 20 year-old Ramon Lavota and his buddies stretched a wire across the sidewalk to trip a Chinese man who fell, then drew a handgun and shot Ramon dead

* Jarvis Willett of Fox Lake Wisc. died of a heart attack on the discovery that pranksters had hidden his wagon

* Newton Reddinger’s head was blown off when a boy in Oak Ridge Penn. fired into a crowd that was taunting him

* Nine year-old Carl Appel of New Haven was pinging his pals with his little pea-shooter when he ran into a brick wall, fatally driving the pipe into his throat

* Joseph Berbeno (14) of Harlem blew out the brains of his 12 year-old friend in a game

* Annie Osgood of Ashland, Kentucky, was on a suicide watch after she wrapped herself in a sheet and frightened her sister so much that she leaped from the bedroom window, breaking her neck

* Mrs. Sadie Stiver of Logansport died of shock on hearing her daughter scream at the sight of trick-or-treaters

Festivities Keep Alive an Old Custom Which Many Participated Thursday Evening

Thursday night (Hallowe’en) was joyously celebrated in Santa Rosa, when many of the old-time customs were revived, the mellow gleam of the Jack O’Lanterns was seen and “spooks” were about in the land. In many Santa Rosa homes there were a number of little parties, at which there were Hallowe’en festivities and several public entertainments.

There were prank players abroad, too, and it will not be surprising if a number of householders awake this morning to find front gates missing or tied up, and other mischievous tricks perpetrated while men slept. If they do they must charge it up to the old-time excuse “boys will be boys.”

– Press Democrat, November 1, 1907

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Indians suffered a perplexing form of racism in the old Santa Rosa newspapers. As with other minorities, the racism was mostly passive: They were simply ignored, except when a serious crime was committed or there was a demeaning incident that the editor viewed as entertaining (even better if it could be written up in comic dialect).

Yet at the same time, editors resisted dipping the pen into the inkwell of snark when it came to writing about Indians as a race, as shown in the sympathetic 1907 articles below on the desperate conditions of Native people in Northern California. This was also an expression of racism – a domestic version of “The White Man’s Burden,” suggesting that Indian welfare had to be managed by missionaries and federal agents. These presumptions go back to the origins of Frontier America, and were probably best summarized in the “Lo! the Poor Indian!” chapter from Horace Greeley’s 1860 book, “An Overland Journey:”

But the Indians are children…they are utterly incompetent to cope in any way with the European or Caucasian race. Any band of schoolboys, from ten to fifteen years of age, are quite as capable of ruling their appetites, devising and upholding a public policy, constituting and conducting a state or community, as an average Indian tribe. And, unless they shall be treated as a truly Christian community would treat a band of orphan children providentially thrown on its hands, the aborigines of this country will be practically extinct within the next fifty years.

These benevolent services could best be rendered, of course, if the Indians were restricted and isolated on distant reservations. If the Indians were viewed as “children” they were treated as unwanted ones, whom the Americans wanted to neither see nor hear.

A third kind of media racism can be found in articles that touched upon the “pioneer” years. Here the Indians were treated as a caveman-like race who lived here ‘way back in antiquity. Sometimes they weren’t mentioned at all, leaving the impression that the Anglo and Hispanic whites discovered an empty Eden. In another story below, Thomas Hopper recalls the days when he saw great herds of elk roamed “everywhere about this section.” Hopper – an illiterate man who became a successful banker because of his knack for numbers – first came to Sonoma county in 1849, when there was still an Indian presence in the area (the round up and death march to Round Valley started around 1857), and hunting wild elk would have been one of the few sources of meat still available to them.

Below are also a pair of 1907 reports describing workmen coming across an Indian grave in Sebastopol. In both local papers, it’s presented as a curiosity; “It is generally believed the spot was once a Indian burial ground,” the Republican noted. What both papers failed to reveal was that the remains were found on the perimeter of the Indian cemetery on the Walker ranch, which was still active at the time, with the last known burial in 1912. (MORE on the Indian community in Sebastopol.)

To be fair, we can only make benign assumptions as to why both papers omitted any link in those stories to Indian culture. Whether or not old Tom Hopper was one of the few living people who might have witnessed a Pomo or Coast Miwok elk hunt probably didn’t seem interesting. It’s doubtful the editors saw any hypocrisy in their respectful and lengthy obituaries of any old “pioneer” who died and their offhand description of ditch-diggers handling someone’s old bones. Intentional or no, the Indians disappeared a little bit more with each column-inch of print, and their legitimate right to be here a little further diminished.

Want Better Conditions for the Tribesman

Edward Posh and William Benson, two prominent Indians of this county and Mendocino county respectively, have returned from the conference recently held at Mount Hermon, where matters for the betterment of the Indians were discussed. There were nineteen Indians present at the conference and they petitioned the great white father at Washington to supply the needs. In the memorial sent to the nation’s capital, the first thing the Indians request is that lands and homes be provided for twelve thousand out of the seventeen thousand Indians in this state. Five thousand are provided for in the Round Valley reservation. Mr. Posh estimates that there are between three and four hundred Indians scattered through Sonoma county.

The second request is that the Indians be provided with common schools that they may learn to read and write and that industrial schools be established for the young people that they may learn some useful occupation. They also ask that the laws be enforced relative to the selling of liquor to Indians and suggest that the laws be amended so that no person with Indian blood in his veins shall be able to secure liquor. They ask that the party selling and the party purchasing liquor both be punished. Among the other suggestions made for the Indians is that they be provided with a field physician appointed by the government to attend sick tribesmen, and that they be provided with legal protection that they may secure justice in all the courts when involved in litigation.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 22, 1907
Efforts to Be Made to Secure Allotment of Lands for Redmen of This County

Twenty Indians – nineteen men and one woman, all members of the Sonoma county Indian tribes – returned on Sunday from Mount Hermon in Santa Cruz county, where the Northern California Indian Missionary Society has been meeting last week. One of the Indian leaders is Edward Posh, an intelligent man with some education, who told a reporter Monday that he and his people believe some good will result from the efforts of this society to better the condition of the native tribes of northern California, who have suffered much at the hands of the white men, and who are now for the most part destitute.

“My home, I have none,” he said when he was asked where his home was. “None of us have homes. That’s the trouble with us. That’s what the Indian Association is trying to get for us.”

“Five objects are sought by the Association,” said Edward Posh. The first of these is homes for the homeless Indians. The second is education – common school education for the Indian children and industrial education for those who are grown. The third thing sought is protection from the drink evil. It is well known that the use of liquor by Indians brings results much worse than the use of liquor by white men. The Indians themselves ask further protection from this evil by asking that the government impose heavier penalties upon those white men who supply intoxicants to members of the tribes; and they ask, also, that the law punish Indians who buy liquor as well as white men who sell to them.

“The fifth thing asked by the Association is that the government provide us with doctors. When an Indian gets sick, he generally suffers and dies or suffers and gets well with no medical attendance. Few of us have any money; none of us have much; and there are few doctors anywhere near us. And of those who are near, not many will attend us, for there is poor prospect for a fee.”

J. A. Gilchrist is the manager of the Indian missions. The Rev. J. A. Johnson of Berkeley, is one of those leading the movement for the betterment of the tribes. They say that the difficulty of the Indian problem is not due to any stubbornness of the Indians themselves, nor to any improvidence or to unfitness to be civilized. They declare that the government itself has repeatedly broken faith with the natives despoiled them of their lands on promise to give them others and neglected or refused to keep the promise. They term the last 100 years of United States history “A Century of Dishonor” in its reference to dealings with the aborigines, and they seek to make amends for it in all possible ways.

– Press Democrat, July 13, 1907
Well Known Pioneer Recalls Early Days When Antlered Herd Roamed at Will Here

“I saw elk in droves when I first came to this country, and shot quite a number of them. I remember not only seeing them wandering here and there on the site where Santa Rosa stands today, but everywhere about this section,” said Thomas Hopper, the well known pioneer and capitalist as he surveyed the big stuffed elk in the Press Democrat building on Thursday.

“I remember seeing one of the largest drove of elks I ever saw over near Bloomfield, and one time saw two fine ones down on the Cotati. I tell you they were big fellows.”

Mr. Hopper, despite his eighty-seven years, walked down town briskly on Thursday morning from his McDonald avenue residence. He has just returned from an outing on Wesley Hopper’s ranch near town, and while there took a little exercise at splitting stove wood with an axe. The exercise he says drove away the rheumatism from his shoulder.

– Press Democrat, October 12, 1907

Workmen for the Petaluma and Santa Rosa electric railroad in digging a trench at Sebastopol recently, came across many human bones in the earth they threw from the trench. The bones were examined to ascertain if they were really from human beings. In the same spot the workmen discovered some flint arrow heads and some beads, indicating that the bones were those of Indians. Whether the men had been killed or died a peaceful death will never be known. It is generally believed the spot was once a Indian burial ground.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 19, 1907

While engaged in widening the electric company’s roadbed on Petaluma avenue this week workmen uncovered a skeleton surrounded by a stone mortar and pestle and numerous flint arrow heads. It is believed to be the remains of an Indian buried in the years long past. The bones were almost dust and many of them crumbled when handled. An old Indian burying ground is supposed to have been opened and if the excavations are carried on other finds may be reported.

– Press Democrat, July 19, 1907

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About a year after the 1906 earthquake, Santa Rosa’s beer baron decided it was time to build a house unlike any other in town.

Joseph T. Grace was the managing partner in the renowned Grace Brother’s Brewery (brother Frank was county sheriff, but about to retire) and owned a choice location at the southern foot of McDonald Avenue. Next door was a park that was arguably the true soul of the town, dating back to before the Civil War. The brother’s owned that, too. (MORE)

Although the article in the Press Democrat announced that Grace would be building a “modern home,” a “twentieth century structure,” the result was a heavy, Federalist-style design that wouldn’t have been out of place in Washington D.C, circa 1800. Call it mausoleum-modern.

The house at 1116 Fourth Street was demolished mid-century to make way for a Safeway store, and is currently a Grocery Outlet.

(RIGHT: Photo above from 1913 and below from 1910. The landscaping suggests that the turn-of-the-century fad for palm trees began to wane about this time. Both images courtesy the Sonoma County Library. CLICK to enlarge. )

Brick Dwelling House on the Grace Property is Being Demolished to Make Way For a Modern Home

The brick dwelling house on the Grace property at Fourth street and McDonald avenue is being torn down, and when that has been done a new house will be built there, which will be the family residence of Joseph T. Grace.

The dwelling now being demolished was built in the early ’70’s by H. T. Hewitt, an old-time builder and capitalist, whose son, Dr. H. A. Hewitt, is now a Healdsburg dentist. The Hewitt home was one of the handsomest and most costly dwellings in the Santa Rosa [area] of those early days. Later, it was the home of Phillip Kroncke, and then it passed to Grace Brothers, together with the park adjoining, which was laid out by Mr. Kroncke.

The building was damaged by the earthquake last year, and being regarded as unsafe, has since been tenantless. Still, there is good, tough mortar there, as hard as the bricks themselves, and the bricks are hard to separate. When the house was [illegible microfilm] work upon it completely covering the brick walls.

The house was burned on the Fourth of July, 1876, and nothing but the brick walls remained. The partitions as well as the outer walls were bricks of heavy construction. When the building was restored, there was less woodwork. The brick walls were not covered, and there were not the heavy, ornate wooden cornices of the original dwelling. Still it was a handsome house, and a comfortable residence withal.

Mr. Grace’s new residence will begin to rise as soon as the site is cleared. It will be a twentieth century structure, and as much of an ornament to the new Santa Rosa as the Hewitt home was to the Santa Rosa of the ’70’s.

– Press Democrat, July 13, 1907

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